ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Credit-related regulated activities – Important guidance for members of AAPA

This information concerns you, and requires a response. Please read this carefully, and respond by 31 March 2014, using the attached form, to:

Authorisation

ACCA

2 Central Quay

89 Hydepark Street

Glasgow 

G3 8BW.

If you prefer, you may scan and email the form to authorisation@accaglobal.com.

Background

ACCA was first granted a group licence under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 by the Office of Fair Trading on 10 April 1979. The licence was subsequently amended to cover the following categories of business:

  • Category A Consumer Credit
  • Category C Credit Brokerage
  • Category D Debt Adjusting
  • Category E Debt Counselling
  • Category G Debt Administration
  • Category H1 Provision of Credit Information Services (including credit repair)

It also covers members of AAPA and their firms, but has always been limited to activities arising in the course of a member’s practice as an Authorised Public Accountant.

It has always been the case that firms that engaged in any of the categories of business not covered by the group licence (Category B Consumer Hire, Category F Debt Collecting, and Category I Credit Reference Agency) were required to obtain the relevant standard licence from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

What has changed?

From 1 April 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will assume responsibility from the OFT for regulating consumer credit activities. The professional bodies’ consumer credit group licences will not transfer to the FCA, and there will be no comparable group licensing arrangement.

A new framework for consumer credit authorisation has been laid down by Government, which brings the ‘credit-related regulated activities’ of many professionals within Part XX of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The FCA is committed to authorising professional firms under the Designated Professional Body (DPB) regime for these credit-related activities and, consequently, ACCA is required to effect a change to its Designated Professional Body Regulations 2001.

Members of AAPA

ACCA’s consumer credit group licence has covered AAPA sole practitioners and firms since May 1998. However these practitioners have never been eligible to conduct exempt regulated activities under the Designated Professional Body Regulations. Therefore, in future, the only option available to AAPA members carrying on any consumer credit activities is direct registration with the FCA.

How does this affect your firm?

AAPA is not a DPB. Therefore, if your practice is not controlled by members of ACCA or another DPB, you need to consider whether your firm wishes to:

  • seek direct authorisation from the FCA to be able to perform specific credit-related regulated activities; or
  • refrain from carrying on any credit-related regulated activities.

Whatever your situation, you need to understand which services you are intending to perform, and how you can obtain any authorisation necessary. An appendix to this guidance sets out the credit-related regulated activities that will now require direct authorisation from the FCA. From 1 April 2014, failure to obtain the necessary authorisation for the services provided by your firm will be a criminal offence.

Next steps

Now is the time for you and your firm to determine the services that you provide and those that you intend to provide in the future. Your firm is required to respond to ACCA, stating what measures it has/intends to put in place.

Further guidance is available from ACCA UK at:

http://www.accaglobal.com/uk/en/technical-activities/new-technical-activities/technical-resources-search/2014/january/changes-to-consumer-credit.html

or from the Technical Advisory service on 020 7059 5920. Having read this guidance and obtained any further information necessary, you are required to complete the form enclosed with this document, and return it by 31 March 2014 to:

Authorisation

ACCA

2 Central Quay

89 Hydepark Street

Glasgow 

G3 8BW

or you may scan and email the form to authorisation@accaglobal.com.

If you are to carry on credit-related regulated activities, you must obtain direct authorisation from the FCA.

Appendix: Credit-related regulated activities

The following are credit-related regulated activities, for which AAPA members will require direct authorisation from the FCA. Items (a) to (g) broadly correspond to the activities covered by the ACCA group licence.

(a) Entering into a regulated credit agreement as lender (article 60B of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(b) Exercising, or having the right to exercise, the lender’s rights and duties under a regulated credit agreement

(c) Credit broking (article 36A of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(d) Debt adjusting (article 39D(1) and (2) of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(e) Debt counselling (article 39E(1) and (2) of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(f) Debt administration (article 39G(1) and (2) of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(g) Providing credit information services (article 89A of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(h) debt collecting (article 39F(1) and (2) of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(i) entering into a regulated consumer hire agreement as owner (article 60N of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(j) exercising, of having the right to exercise, the owner’s rights and duties under a regulated consumer hire agreement

(k) providing credit references (article 89B of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(l) operating an electronic system in relation to lending (article 36H of the draft Regulated Activities Order)

(m) Agreeing to carry on a regulated activity so far as relevant to any of the activities in (a) to (l) above.

The draft Order is available at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2013/9780111100493

Last updated: 4 Apr 2014